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Re: Feduccia on bird origins (again)
> Problem is that most modern ornithologists have little osteological
> knowledge and are thus unable to independently evaluate the claims of
> people like Feduccia.
Indeed, it's scary how much osteology is neglected by vertebrate neontologists
in general. I'm working on a somewhat bizarre Oligocene newt here. How many
morphological phylogenetic analyses of Salamandridae have ever been undertaken
-- what you think?
Keep in mind first that Salamandridae has a fairly good fossil record in Europe
and North America (self & Laurin 2007, in prep.), and the number of extant
species (in Europe, NA, Asia, and northernmost Africa) is 97 according to
Three: in 1969, 2008 and 2013. The last two draw heavily on the latter, plus a
few typos, while leaving various characters and taxa out for no stated or
Osteological descriptions of extant salamandrid species are also hard to come
by. There's a heavily craniocentric one from 1994 that only covers Europe and
surroundings, and... that seems to be it. Even in classic textbooks of
amphibian biology like Noble (1931) or Duellman & Trueb (1986) there's next to
nothing. Even the large-format 500-page book titled "Osteology", volume 5 of
"Amphibian Biology", has much more about development and histology than
description; there's no descriptive chapter about salamander osteology at all.
Similarly, several recent papers that describe Cretaceous frogs lament the fact
that so many frog clades strongly supported by molecular analyses lack
identified osteological autapomorphies -- simply because nobody or almost
nobody has ever looked for any.